Comax Talks Sweetness Enhancers

In its June issue, Nutritional Outlook reported the Comax Flavors (Melville, NY) had introduced a new sweetness enhancer that allows brands to add sweetness at half the calories of sugar. Cathy Armstrong, vice president of corporate communications for Comax Flavors, offered more details in an interview with Nutritional Outlook assistant editor Robby Gardner. Describe this new technology and how it works.

In its June issue, Nutritional Outlook reported the Comax Flavors (Melville, NY) had introduced a new sweetness enhancer that allows brands to add sweetness at half the calories of sugar. Cathy Armstrong, vice president of corporate communications for Comax Flavors, offered more details in an interview with Nutritional Outlook assistant editor Robby Gardner.

Describe this new technology and how it works.
The product actually represents a combination of several ingredients that aid sweetness reception by stimulating different taste receptor sites in the mouth, simultaneously.

Why did Comax develop this?
[The project was] undertaken in response to the industry trend toward healthier product formulations. The main driver behind the invention of the new sweetness enhancer was to offer a new and powerful tool in the pursuit of better-tasting, reduced-sugar products.

A lot of our creative energies are being market-driven at this point, with the heightened sensitivities relating to high fructose corn syrup and sugar. These would be the primary things we would be looking at reducing and replacing with a strategic selection of artificial sweeteners, and that almost always requires flavor adjustment or balancing by ingredients like Comax...s sweetness enhancers. We are getting more requests from our customers about these issues with each passing day.

How can it be incorporated in products?
Available in liquid or powder form, the new sweetness enhancer would be included at rates ranging from 0.05 to 0.5% in a given formulation. Usage level would be very application-specific, due to the functional roles of sugar or corn syrup, for example, in creating bulk, mouthfeel, or caramelization.

In a product like a carbonated or juice drink, these concerns are not so much an issue. In something like a baked product or a candy, they are more important because there is also a functional role for the sweetening system.

What types of products are ideal for the sweetness enhancer?
Beverages are certainly a key area'”most especially, beverages geared toward children. The new sweetness enhancer works particularly well in juices and chocolate milks, which obviously are also popular choices for kids.

With local and national initiatives to reduce salt/sugar contents in foods/beverages occurring throughout the United States, now more than ever, what kind of an influence is this going to have on the flavor technology industry? Perhaps an influence is already apparent at Comax?
Clearly, consumer demand and governmental actions are key drivers of product development. We are most definitely seeing a lot of initiatives by product developers of late, to reduce sugar as well as salt in their products.

Our salt enhancers and sweetness enhancers are, of course, flavors'”as opposed to actual salt or sugar substitutes'“and thus are much easier to deal with when it comes to labeling. They are simply flavors and labeled as such.

Since flavors, flavor blends, and flavoring systems for healthy products are among our key specialties at Comax, these trends are naturally good for our business, both in terms of our existing product offerings and our product development directions going forward.